Chicago's African-American roots go long and deep--long before the historic Great Migration to Chicago. It started with Chicago's founding by the Haitian-American Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable and it continues with the thriving amount of black-owned restaurants and businesses throughout the city.
If you're planning a trip to the Windy City and are curious about black Chicago, which includes Africans, African Americans and those of Caribbean descent, we encourage you to indulge in this guide. We've rounded up a great list of places you should seek out: from where to dine and dance to where you can go pay tribute to historical figures.
The Best Of Black Chicago: Barbershops/Hair Salons/Spas
Bettye O. Day Spa: Located not too far away from President Barack Obama's Hyde Park residence and Hyatt Place Chicago, this luxury destination offers daily specials (student discounts, deals on spa products) and mini facials for those slipping in for a little relaxation during lunchtime. For the ultimate pampering session, one should reserve the "house special," consisting of four awesome hours filled with a facial, mani-pedi, full body massage and time in a relaxing hydro-tub.
Address: 1424-28 E. 53rd St., Suite 304
More Like It
Coleman Brothers Barber Shop: Located only a block away from Stony Island Arts Bank--which holds a permanent exhibition of the "Godfather of House Music" Frankie Knuckles' vinyl collection--Coleman Brothers is a classic, family-friendly establishment offering all men's grooming services.
D'Jons of Chicago Barber Salon: Those who stay at Hotel Blake, Hilton Chicago or Renaissance Blackstone Hotel should take comfort in knowing that this well-established shop is within walking distance. In addition to offering men's grooming services, D'Jon's also features shoe shine services.
Hyde Park Barber Studio: You'd think it would be impossible to snag an appointment at the institution that once boasted President Obama as a regular client. It's not and it continues to gain favorable reviews from fans for friendly service and attention to detail.
Kenny Mac's Barbershop: In the Uptown neighborhood on the Far North Side, men will find a number of offerings, but the platinum package is of special note. It includes a haircut, hot towel leather shave, facial mask and manicure.
Timeout At Shannon's: Situated in the West Loop, near some of the city's hottest restaurants and cocktail lounges, this is a great place to clean up before you hit the town. Shannon's features, of course, all the grooming services men need to make a great impression.
Albert Morrison Hair Studio: Centered in the well-heeled Streeterville neighborhood that's just east of the Magnificent Mile, this fashionable studio offers a variety of beauty services, from haircuts and special-event styling to extensions and hair color. Morrison is also available for on-call appointments.
Amazon Natural Look Academy: Looking for an affordable way to achieve certain looks? This South Side beauty school boasts students as stylists, who are learning the skills behind braiding, weaving, locing, twists and other black hair-oriented techniques. They're each supervised by a professional to assure quality service.
Angie's Hair Salon: Across the street from President Obama's favorite pizzeria, Italian Fiesta, and in close vicinity to South Shore Cultural Center, Angie's sports a modern setting. Stylists specialize in all styles.
Chatto’s Salon and Chatto Eco-Friendly Salon: Another salon known best for natural hair styling, Chatto's caters to men and women. The owner also sells her own natural hair care products, plus offers facials and men's haircuts.
Glo On Braids & Natural Hairstyling: Yet another South Loop salon, this one specializes in natural looks (braids, locs, twists), weaves and cornrows. It's by appointment only; no walk-ins and prices vary based on a number of factors, including hair length.
Kimberly Warren-Coleman Salon: A one-stop shop inside the South Loop Hotel, this spacious venue caters to women and men, with hair, nails and skin services. They will also take care of children's hair needs.
Van Cleef Hair Studio: The former stylist for First Lady Michelle Obama continues to thrive in River North. The salon works with natural and relaxed hair as well as extensions. The second floor features spa treatments.
The Best Of Black Chicago: Cultural Attractions
Gallery Guichard: Those who appreciate fine art should find pleasure at this Bronzeville-based gem boasting work from African-American and African artists. Gallery Guichard features a new artist every six to eight weeks, and has hosted several international exhibits. Mediums include paintings, sculptures, ceramic and furniture.
More Like It
The Best Of Black Chicago: Dance & Theater
Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago: There's nothing like Muntu. It's in a league of its own. The prestigious dance company specializes in new works that build on African, Caribbean and African-American cultural traditions. The long-time Muntu Dance Theatre has been entertaining generations since 1972, when the troupe used to travel all over Chicago to showcase its invigorating performances. Now they travel the world.
More Like It
The Best Of Black Chicago: Family-Friendly Establishments
Little Black Pearl Workshop: After-school programs, summer camp and a number of family-oriented events help young people flex their creative energies at the nonprofit Little Black Pearl. The center's a cool find in the Bronzeville community, and offers a number of exciting, yet educational events, including music arts education, visual arts, and regular field trips to cultural institutions across the city.
Address: 1060 E. 47th St.
More Like It
Litehouse Whole Food Grill (hosts monthly events for families)
South Side Community Art Center
The Best Of Black Chicago: Historical Sites/Tours
President Barack Obama Residence: The 44th president of the United States calls the Hyde Park/Kenwood neighborhood home when he's in Chicago. It's a multilevel Georgian revival mansion on a quiet residential block. The public is not allowed to tour his home, but they can take photos from across the street.
Address: 5046 S. Greenwood Ave.
More Like It
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Headquarters (first African-American sorority; founded in 1908)
Bronzeville Tours (the neighborhood was home to such notables as Sammy Davis, Jr., Katherine Dunham and Nat King Cole)
Carter G. Woodson Library (named for the founder of "Black History Week")
Chess Records Building/Blues Heaven
Chicago Defender (one of the first African-American newspapers; founded in 1905)
Final Call Newspaper Headquarters (weekly newspaper of Nation of Islam)
Gravesite of Jack Johnson (final resting place of the first-ever black Heavyweight Champion of the World)
Mahalia Jackson residence (famed gospel singer's home is located at 8358 S. Indiana Ave.)
Michael Jordan Statue at United Center
Muhammad Ali residence (former heavyweight boxing champion's former residence is located at 4944 S. Woodlawn Ave.)
PUSH-Rainbow Coalition Headquarters (founded by Jesse Jackson. Sr.)
South Shore Cultural Center (live-music concerts, family-oriented festivals and more occur at this historic venue on the South Side)
WVON-AM (all-talk radio station celebrated 50 years in 2013)
The Best Of Black Chicago: Institutions of Worship
Trinity United Church of Christ: This magnificent house of worship on the Far South Side, which was recognized as the church of President Obama when he was a state senator and U.S. senator, boasts more than 7,000 members. Trinity also maintains two senior citizen residences, day care centers, credit union, bookstore and the Center for African Biblical Studies, 70 different ministries and five choirs. Another one of its biggest achievements is its massive scholarship program. Sunday worship occurs at 7:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Address: 400 W. 95th St.
More Like It
First Church of Deliverance
The Best Of Black Chicago: Lodging
Welcome Inn Manor: Located in the heart of Bronzeville--which celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2016--the classic bed and breakfast inn was established in a vintage brownstone in 2011. Each room is uniquely designed, plus there are accommodations for families. Guests get breakfast every day, plus transportation may be provided at an additional cost for those who need it. It's a convenient way to see the city's many attractions.
Address: 4563 S. Michigan Ave.
More Like It
RLJ Lodging Trust: BET founder Robert L. Johnson is behind this firm, which has a portfolio of 146 premium-branded, focused-service and compact full-service hotels, located in 21 states and the District of Columbia. A number of them are in Chicago: Courtyard Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile, Courtyard Chicago Midway Airport, Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Midway Airport, Hampton Inn Chicago-Midway Airport, Hilton Garden Inn Chicago/Midway Airport, Holiday Inn Express Chicago Midway Airport, Marriott Chicago Midway and Sleep Inn Midway Airport.
Chicago South Loop Hotel: The complimentary parking spot is one of the biggest attractions to book a room at this property, which features 232 guest rooms and suites. There is a gym, cafe serving breakfast and lunch, beauty salon and more.
The Best Of Black Chicago: Nightlife
Buddy Guy's Legends: Dubbed "the greatest living guitarist" by Eric Clapton, legendary Chicago blues star Buddy Guy opened his eponymous downtown live music venue in 1989. The walls document the bar's rich history, featuring autographed photos, endless awards, retired Buddy Guy guitars and more. The menu offers Louisiana-style Cajun and soul food.
Address: 700 S. Wabash Ave.
More Like It
Craft Cocktail Lounges
M Lounge (jazz)
Mr. Brown's Lounge (reggae)
Parkway Ballroom (restored venue from Bronzeville's glory days)
The Wild Hare (reggae)
The Best Of Black Chicago: Restaurants
Luella’s Southern Kitchen: The Lincoln Square-based eatery was named in honor of chef/owner Darnell Reed's great-grandmother--whose delicious Southern recipes inspired him to pursue his passion for cooking as a career. Expect contemporary updates to classic dishes like braised short rib mac and cheese, bourbon-infused chicken and waffles, crispy catfish tacos and a fried green tomato BLT. The restaurant is BYOB; no corkage fee required.
Address: 4609 N. Lincoln Ave.
More Like It
Peach's Currency Exchange Café
Black Chefs, Mixologists & Sommeliers of Note
Frontier (helmed by Executive Chef/Partner Brian Jupiter)
Lula Café (helmed by Beverage Director Diana Hawkins)
Mercat a la Planxa (helmed by Beverage Director Wesley Jackson)
Petterino's (helmed by Executive Chef/Partner Mychael Bonner)
Smoke Daddy (helmed by Executive Chef Lamar Moore)
Three Dots and a Dash (helmed by Beverage Director Julian Cox)
Food & Drink Pop-Up Specialists
The Best Of Black Chicago: Shopping
The Silver Room: The hipster version of Tiffany's now resides in its new Hyde Park home. Funky silver jewelry created by mostly local designers is highlighted in this space that also spotlights artwork by up-and-coming artists. Owner Eric Williams is also known for hosting a number of monthly and annual events, notably workshops, poetry slams and a summer house music block party.
Address: 1506 E. 53rd St.
More Like It